Super Bowl LIV (54) Recap

Super Bowl LIV (54) Recap

The 2019-2020 NFL regular season, Wildcards, Divisionals, Conference Title Games and Pro Bowl are in the history books. One more game stood between the end of football season and the Daytona 500 to kickstart NASCAR.

The game featured the AFC Champion and Lamar Hunt Trophy winning Kansas City Chiefs against the NFC Champion and George Halas Trophy winning San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs lost the first Super Bowl in 1966 and won the fourth Super Bowl in 1969. Exactly 50 years after winning their only Super Bowl, the Chiefs were back in the big game for the third time. The 49ers won four Super Bowls in the 1980s and a fifth Super Bowl in 1994. They lost the Super Bowl in 2012 and were back in it for the seventh time.

These teams were built completely differently. The Chiefs came in with a high-flying offense led by phenom quarterback Patrick Mahomes, speedsters Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, and big tight end Travis Kelce. The 49ers were built with defense. One year after going 4-12, a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo has benefitted from a trio of running backs and an imposing tight end in George Kittle.

Both coaches were desperate to exorcise playoff demons. Walrus Lite Andy Reid had been to the Conference Title Game seven times. He lost five of those games as well as the 2004 Super Bowl. Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls, but his son Kyle presided over the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history. As the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, his play-calling allowed the Falcons to blow a 28-3 third quarter lead. Atlanta lost that game to the Patriots 34-28 in overtime.

With politics and pop culture dividing us, the final football game of every season brings approximately one out of every three Americans together.

Then came the kickoff. San Francisco won the toss and for some bizarre reason decided to defer. The logic is to get the ball near the end of the half and then get it to start the third quarter to keep the other team’s offense cooling their heels for up to an hour. However, the last thing any sane coach should do is let Patrick Mahomes have the football. The only way to beat the Chiefs is to keep him off the field. The 1990 Giants held the ball for over 40 minutes, allowing them to shock the seemingly unstoppable Bills. Yet Kyle Shanahan let Mahomes start the game.

The strategy appeared to work when the Chiefs went 3 and out. Mahomes was off the mark with his passes. The 49ers faced 2nd and 11 at their own 17. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Greg Kittle for 11 yards. Deebo Samuel broke free for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 32, Samuel gained 7. On 3rd and 5 from the Chiefs 20, Garoppolo threw incomplete. The 10 play, 62 yard, 6 minute drive had the 49ers settling for a 38 yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Mahomes rebounded after a touchback, hitting Tyreek Hill for 9 and again for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the their own 44, pass-happy Andy Reid ran the ball. Damien Williams gained 5. Mahomes hit Kelce for 9 and Williams ran for 14. On 4th and 1 at the Frisco 5, the ultra-conservative Andy Reid went ultra-aggressive. Bill Parcells once said that you have to have big balls to win the biggest games. Parcells called a fake punt in the 1990 NFC Title Game, and one of his disciples Sean Payton called a surprise onsides kick to start the second half of the 2009 Super Bowl. Obviously pass-happy Andy Reid would throw it in this situation. Again, he ran the ball. Williams took the direct snap and gained four yards down to the one. At this point everyone knew that West Coast Offense dink and dunker pass-happy Andy Reid would throw it. Again, he ran the ball and Mahomes got in. After the first quarter, the Chiefs led 7-3. Andy Reid was gambling on 4th and 1. He was running the ball.

Things got worse for the 49ers when Garoppolo was intercepted early in the second quarter to set up the Chiefs at their own 44.  Mahomes went deep to Sammy Watkins for a 28 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the Frisco 19, Andy Reid again decided to go for it. Again the pass-happy coach opted to run the ball. Williams gained 3. On 3rd and 7 from the 49ers 13, Mahomes threw incomplete. Harrison Butker hit a 31 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Chiefs. The 49ers took over at their own 20 and Raheem Mostert ran for one and 9. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 16. Mostert added 11 and Tevin Coleman ran for 17 more. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 11 and Kyle Juszczyk for a 15 yard touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the half, the game was tied 10-10. Kyle Shanahan’s defense was playing well and his plan to shorten the game was clearly working. His plan to have the last possession of the half and the first possession of the second half worked. Yet in a stunning turn of events, Shanahan made a horrendous coaching decision at the end of the first half.

With 1:53 left in the half, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 14 at their own 48. A short completion gained only one yard. A quick timeout followed buy a punt would have given the 49ers about 1:40 to work with. Yet Shanahan never took a timeout even though he had all 3 of them. After a punt and a touchback, only one minute remained. Rather than even try to set up for a field goal, Shanahan called two conservative runs. He was giving up. Then Andy Reid made one of the rare bad decisions on his side. He has been criticized for bad clock management in the past, and this time he should have let the clock go to the half. Instead with 20 seconds left in the half, he called a timeout on defense with the 49ers facing 3rd and 5 at their own 25. It was too little time for the Chiefs to do anything, and it nearly blew up in the Chiefs faces. Garoppolo hit Wilson for 20 yards and the 49ers called timeout with 14 seconds left. Garoppolo then went deep to George Kittle for a 42 yard gain. Despite Shanahan’s decision to initially give up, Reid’s return mistake still gave the 49ers a chance to take the lead on a field goal. However, they never got that chance. Kittle was called for offensive pass interference, wiping out the big game. At that point Shanahan had Garoppolo take a knee as the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 10-10.

While Shakira and Jennifer Lopez did a great job shaking their practically naked asses, the halftime show should still be abolished and replaced with football highlights. This concludes all discussion of non-football related matters.

The 49ers began the third quarter at their own 16. Garoppolo hit Emanuel Sanders for gains of 5 and 15. Samuel got around the end for 14 more yards to midfield. Garoppolo hit Juszczyk for 14 and kittle for 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Chiefs 27, Groppolo hit Coleman for only 3 yards. On 4th and 2, Shanahan decided not to gamble. Gould hit the 42 yard field goal and the 49ers led 13-10. The Chiefs offense finally took the field after what seemed like forever. They moved from their own 9 to a 3rd and 12 at their own 39. Mahomes went deep and was intercepted by Fred Warner. The 49ers took over at their own 45. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 16, Kendrick Bourne for 26, and Juszczyk for 10. Mostert got in from the one as the 49ers led 20-10 after three quarters. The Chiefs after a touchback moved 52 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the 49ers 23 yard line, Mahomes threw a pass off the mark that deflected off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Moore, who returned it 7 yards to his own 20. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the 49ers were in complete control. They needed to just run the ball and grind out a win.

Instead, Shanahan made the exact same set of mistakes he made 3 years ago in blowing the Super Bowl. His stubborn refusal to run the ball in 2016 led to sacks, turnovers and penalties. In that game, he could have just taken 3 knees and iced the game with a field goal. Instead, he kept throwing. Last week in the NFC Title Game, Garoppolo threw only 8 passes. Despite having 3 good running backs, Shanahan in this game kept throwing. on 2nd and 9 from this own 39, Garoppolo threw incomplete. Then came a false start.

The Chiefs got the ball back with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation at their own 20. They dodged what would have been a death blow when the fumbled punt made it out of bounds. Mahomes ran for 9 and hit Hill for 9. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were in desperation mode facing 3rd and 15 at their own 35. The 49ers defense had been suffocating the whole game. Then came the breakdown. Mahomes did what he does. He threw a wounded duck, but because his arm is so strong, it still went to Hill for a 44 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Frisco 21, Mahomes went deep incomplete. However, defensive pass interference on Moore meant 1st and goal at the one. Moore never looked back to see where the ball was. Mahomes then went to Travis Kelce for the touchdown. With 6 minutes left, the Chiefs were within 20-17.

Again, Shanahan needed to run the ball. Again, he refused to do so. Despite Mostert running for 5 yards, 2nd and 5 from their own 25 saw Garoppolo throw incomplete twice. The Chiefs got it back at their own 35 with a full 5 minutes left. Mahomes hit Hill for 5, Kelce for 9, Hill for 3, and then a deep ball to Watkins for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 5, one play would determine whether the game would be tied. Instead, Mahomes hit Williams for the touchdown. With 2:44 to play, the Chiefs had retaken the lead 24-20.

The 49ers got the ball back at their own 15. Now needing to pass, Shanahan called a run. Mostert did gain 17 yards, but it took the clock down nearly to the 2 minute warning. Grinding out clock is not good when you are losing. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 8 and Bourne for 16. With 1:49 left, the 49ers had 1st and 10 just past midfield. Garoppolo threw incomplete twice. With 1:40 left and needing a first down, Shanahan decided to go for it all. Garoppolo went for the bomb and had an open receiver. The winning touchdown pass would add to the list of 49ers quarterbacks and Super Bowl heroics. It was not to be. The ball was overthrown for Garoppolo’s third straight incompletion. Some 49ers fans groused that Joe Montana would have completed the pass. No, he would not have. He was a system quarterback with no arm strength. On 4th and 10 with 1:25 left, Garoppolo was sacked for a 9 yard loss.

Although it appeared over, the 49ers still had all 3 timeouts. A defensive stop would give the 49ers one more chance. From the Frisco 42, Williams gained 4 yards and the 49ers took their first timeout with 1:20 left. Williams got the carry again. This time he would not be denied as he ran over everyone for a 38 yard touchdown. 2 plays later Garoppolo’s desperation Hail Mary was intercepted with one minute left. The 49ers led 20-10 after 3 1/2 quarters, but a 21-0 Chiefs barrage in the final 6 minutes including 2 touchdowns in the final 3 minutes completely turned around the game. Mahomes was the MVP of the game. Both coaches came in obsessed with passing the ball, but the winning coach adapted. Shanahan played too conservative at the end of the first half and was for the second time in four years far too aggressive late in the game. Andy Reid was aggressive early but pounded the rock when necessary. Walrus Lite Andy Reid after 21 years as a head coach finally became a Super Bowl winning head coach. He is no longer Walrus Lite. With the win, the future Hall of Fame coach has now finally been upgraded to full walrus status. After 50 years, the Chiefs will no longer have to live on only Hank Stram and Len Dawson. Now they are Super Bowl Champions with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Reid announced that if invited, he would definitely go to the White House. A bunch of his players concurred. The 2019 NFL season, and 100th overall NFL season, is now in the history books. 31-20 Chiefs


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